Sunday, 28 December 2014

William Johnston 1888-1926, Inquest

Sometimes when researching your family you'll find something that pulls at your heartstrings, this is one such case.

William Johnston is my 1st cousin, 3 times removed, our common ancestors are George Brown and Mary Cleary.  I found his death a while ago but tonight was searching through Trove for any snippets and I found a Coroner's account of his tragic death.

PRIMITIVE HOPPERSCORONER'S SEVERE COMMENT  SYDNEY, Thursday.Some caustic comments were made to-day at an inquest concerning the death of William Johnston, who fell into the water while opening the doors of the hopper Kestrel. Evidence was given that when the large doors at the bottom of the hopper jammed it was customary to strike the ram with a hammer to release them. Johnston   had been doing this for about 10 minutes, standing on a pile of ashes, before the doors opened and he and the ashes slid into the water. 
William Tait, who was also employed on the hopper, endeavoured to save Johnston's life, and had managed to grasp his hand when another load of ashes crashed on to his shoulders, and he lost his grip. 
The coroner, in returning a verdict of accidental death, said he had inspected the hopper and it appeared to him that the method of opening the doors was most primitive; in fact, it seemed to, be an invention of the early eighties when human life was not of much value. He could not imagine that a better method of opening the doors could not be provided. A man might escape 100 times and then lose his life through no fault of his own. "It occurred to me," he added, "that a man has not anything to stand on except the ashes. Men become so accustomed to this sort of thing that they lose their sense of danger." 
The owners of the hopper informed the coroner that they had taken steps to prevent such accidents in future.
PRIMITIVE HOPPERS. (1926, August 20). Northern Star(Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved December 29, 2014, from 
Further, his death appears to have left his surviving parents, William Johnston and Alice Mina Lola Brown in hardship.
DEATH OF A WORKER.PARENTS AWARDED COMPENSATION. Sydney, November 30.The Workers' Compensation Commission to-day awarded the parents of WilliamJohnston, who drowned at the Heads on July 22, by being precipitated through the hatches of an ash hopper, £400. Both were partly dependent on their son.
DEATH OF A WORKER. (1926, December 1). The Advertiser(Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 13. Retrieved December 29, 2014, from 

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